Ian Thorpe, one of Australia’s most successful athletes, has reportedly revealed he is gay in a TV interview with Sir Michael Parkinson to be broadcast later today.
The five-time Olympic swimming gold medallist has previously denied allegations about his sexuality, insisting he is straight.
Writing in his biography This Is Me two years ago, he said: “For the record, I am not gay and all of my sexual experiences have been straight.
“I’m attracted to women, I love children, and aspire to have a family one day.”
But reports in the Australian Sunday Telegraph allege the 31-year-old, nicknamed Thorpedo, will “confirm his sexuality” and “bravely reveal he is gay” in the interview to be broadcast on Australia’s Channel Ten this evening.
A promotional clip for the show broadcast on Saturday shows Parkinson asking Thorpe: “You’ve always said that you’re not gay, is all of that true?”
Although Thorpe’s answer is not shown in the clip, he is shown considering his answer.
The reports have created a frenzy on social media with most users coming out in support of the swimmer.
“Brilliant Ian Thorpe now confident enough to confirm he’s gay,” wrote Stephen Spencer on Twitter. “Tragic that for so long he felt he had to deny this.”
In February, the swimmer’s management denied reports he was in rehab for depression and alcohol abuse after he was reportedly found “dazed and disorientated” in Sydney.
Thorpe was taken to hospital after a boy called police to say a man was attempting to break into his family’s van in Sydney, Australia, according to Channel Nine, though his management later claimed he was in hospital for an operation.
His agent James Erskine later admitted Thorpe had been taking a mixture of anti-depressants and medication for his shoulder and in his autobiography the athlete admits he spent much of his life battling “crippling depression”.
The 31-year-old is one of Australia’s most successful athletes ever, claiming 11 world championship gold medals in addition to his Olympic haul.
After standing on the podium at three successive Games, he quit swimming in 2006 before making an unsuccessful attempt at a comeback for London 2012. Sky News